|April 15, 1996|
American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology
611 E. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202-3889
Contact: Linda Bleimehl
Below are highlights of studies published in the April 1996 issue of the Journal of Allergy and Clinical Immunology, the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the American Academy of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology (AAAAI). The full text of these studies may be obtained through the AAAAI public relations office.
NEW STUDY FINDS CAT ANTIGEN IS PRESENT IN HOMES WITHOUT PET CATS IN CONCENTRATIONS CAPABLE OF CAUSING SYMPTOMS IN ALLERGY SUFFERERS
MILWAUKEE - Allergic reactions to pets with fur are extremely common. Up to 10% of the general population and 40% of allergic individuals react to cats and dogs, with allergy to cats being twice as common as allergy to dogs. Over half of all homes in the United States have at least one cat or dog, with pet cats now slightly more common than dogs. In previous studies, Fel d 1, the major allergenic protein in cat dander, has been found in settled dust samples from homes both with and without pet cats. A new study reports that even in homes without cats, levels of Fel d 1 are within the range capable of causing upper (nasal) and lower (lung) respiratory symptoms in people allergic to cats.
Researchers from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine quantified the amount of Fel d 1 in dust and air samples from 37 homes with pet cats and 40 homes without pet cats. Results show that Fel d 1 can be detected in the air of many homes without cats, in concentrations previously proven in controlled inhalation challenges to cause documented symptoms in allergic individuals. "Several prior studies have documented the presence of cat allergen in homes and buildings without cats," note researchers. "This allergen (Fel d 1) is presumed to be present because of passive transport by individuals who have been in contact with cats. In some homes it may also be the result of prior cat habitation, although in our sample 70% of the homes had been inhabited by the same person (a non-cat owner) for at least three years."
Researchers conclude that the potential for clinically significant allergen exposure should be considered in all homes whether or not cats are present. Cat avoidance is still recommended as the first line of treatment for patients allergic to cats. However, since complete avoidance is not always possible, the need for medications or immunotherapy must be carefully considered, researchers conclude.
The AAAAI is the largest national medical organization representing allergists, clinical immunologists, and allied health professionals. Established in 1943, the Academy has more than 5,000 members in the United States, Canada, and 41 other countries.
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EDITOR'S NOTE: These studies were published in the peer-reviewed, scientific journal of the AAAAI, but do not necessarily reflect the policies or opinions of the AAAAI.
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